Below is an overview of the most notable gear I bring on bikepacking trips. I left out the more personal items like clothing and toiletries since those will be highly personal and unique to every person and rider.
Bike & Components
After some extensive research, I decided I would use a Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 (2020) as my primary bikepacking bike. I opted for the Trek Checkpoint because of its comparably reasonable price point, aluminum (and therefor rather lightweight) frame, decent tire clearance (for up to 45mm) and the Shimano 105 drivetrain to ensure reliable shifting quality. The 2021 models come with the Shimano GRX groupset, specifically tailored to gravel riding.
Instead of the stock wheels, I went for Whisky No.9 30W rims for weight considerations and to accommodate wider tires. The front wheel was built with a SONdelux Dynamo Hub to generate electricity while riding and paired with the Sinewave Cycles Revolution.
I wanted to optimize for all sorts of different terrains I could encounter while bikepacking, and my local bike shop recommended the WTB Riddler 700x45c (tubeless) for that purpose. My thinking was that the smoother center line would provide reduced rolling resistance on tarmac, but the wider profile and knobs on the sides decent traction on dirt and gravel roads. While the front tire lasted for close to 5000km, the rear tire had to be replaced about halfway through my ride through New Zealand.
At that point, I switched to Vittoria Terreno Dry 38c (tubeless). These were praised by a bike store in New Zealand, because of the addition of graphene improving durability and performance. I used them in the rear and had a great experience with them for the rest of New Zealand, my ride in Western Australia, and in Vietnam.
Lacking other options, I swapped the Vittoria for a Schwalbe G-One Allround in Taiwan, again for the rear tire. The small knobs provided decent grip on various surfaces, however after putting them to the test in Japan, Norway, Switzerland, and Austria, the knobs along the center were eventually worn down.
Halfway through my trip in South Africa, I encountered some rough and sharp gravel climbing up the switchbacks to Rooibergpass, which the Bontrager tire did not handle too well. I switched to Panaracer GravelKing SK Plus, 700×43 (tubeless), the GravelKing being one of the most popular tires in the gravel riding community. The Panaracer so far seems to possess an almost ideal combination of versatility and durability for medium to long bikepacking adventures.
UK-based Apidura was one of the first companies producing bikepacking bags and is a well-trusted brand in the communities of bikepackers and ultradistance racers. I ended purchasing various luggage items from them, aiming to maximize available space. The packs and accessories I use are:
- Apidura Expedition Saddle Pack, 17L
- Apidura Expedition Compact Frame Pack, 3L
- Apidura Expedition Handlebar Pack, 9L
- Apidura Expedition Accessory Pocket Dry, 4.5L
- Apidura Backcountry Food Pouch Plus, 1.2L
- Apidura Expedition Top Tube Bag, 1L
Attempting to optimize frame space even further, I use additional items for storage and space optimization:
- Bedrock Sinbad Stash Pack
- West Biking Zip Case Tool Bag
- ELITE Byasi Bicycle Tool Storage Bottle Storage bottle
- Wolf Tooth B-RAD Mounting Base 2. Helps with using available space more efficiently by shifting the mount points.
For weight and space consideration, the lighter the sleeping gear is and the smaller it packs, the better. Individual needs, especially with regards to tent size and warmth requirements, will dictate what to use.
- NEMO Hornet 1P Tent
- Mountain Hardwear Lamina 35 sleeping bag (discontinued)
- Sea To Summit Ultralight Air Mat. Used the Big Agnes AXL Air sleeping pad for a while, until it started to develop multiple leaks.
- Exped Air Pillow, Medium
Cooking & Filtration
As with all other items, the smaller and more compact, the better.
- MSR PocketRocket 2 Mini Stove Kit
- Snow Peak Titanium Spork
- Snow Peak Titanium Mug
- Steripen Adventurer Opti
- Flint/fire starter
- Cutting board
- Tiny sponge
- Hand pump, ideally with pressure gauge, e.g. Topeak Mountain DA G
- crankbrothers M10 multi-tool
- OTTOLOCK Cinch Lock (30”)
- Leatherman Rev Multi-tool
- Wolf Tooth Pack Pliers
- Dynaplug Megapill
- Gorilla tape
- Gear Aid 325 Paracord
- Gear Aid Tenacious Tape Repair Tape
- Electrical tape
- Duct tape
- Chain lube
- Spare brake pads
- Quick Links
- Tubeless sealant
- Zip ties
- Spare tube
- Spare set of cleats
- Torque Wrench (5Nm)
- Additional Hex keys
- Spare shifter cable
- Brake Pad spacers (for transport)
- Garmin Edge 810. Dated, but tried and trusted GPS device. To load maps of foreign countries onto the device, I followed DC Rainmaker’s guide.
- Garmin fēnix 5
- SPOT Gen3 GPS Tracker
- Anker External Battery (2nd Gen Astro E5, 16000mAh). Charged via USB while riding through the dyno hub and USB plug.
- iPhone (with Komoot and Ride With GPS)
- iPhone Battery Case
- iPhone DIY ziplock cover bag
- Lights, preferably USB-chargeable, e.g. Planet Bike Superflash Micro, Blackburn 2’FER front or rear light
- Black Diamond Spot Headlamp
- Spurcycle Multi Pouch
- Josh Ibbett’s around-the-world bikepacking kit list (Video)
- Sean Conway’s kit list for breaking the Europe crossing record
- Ritchey: Five bikepacking tips for a great adventure
- Ultralight Bikepacking Kit for Armenia
- Sean Conway on fast touring essentials
- Bikepacking gear that lasts (bikepacking.com)
- Apidura: How to Pack for an Ultra-Distance Cycling Event